Ingredients of Urdu Poetry
Although Urdu Poetry is a very intricate subject that manifests itself in many different forms, there are certain basic ingredients that characterize every Urdu poem. We will now take a look at how a basic Urdu poem is structured and familiarize ourselves with some of its basic ingredients.
In Urdu Poetry, a poem usually takes the form of a ghazal. A ghazal is a collection of multiple couplets, called “ashaar”, that adhere to the rules of “bahar”, “radeef”, “matla”, “maqta”, Love Shayari and “qafiya”. Each couplet, or “sher” expresses a single thought and can stand alone. To understand how the typical Urdu poem is structured, it is vital that you understand what each of these five terms refer to.
Bahar. In Urdu Poetry, “bahar” refers to the meter, or length, of a couplet. Each line of a couplet must have the same bahar as the other. In addition, every single couplet in a ghazal must have the same bahar. Urdu Poetry uses 19 different types of bahar which can be classified into short, medium, and long meters.
Radeef. Radeef in Urdu Poetry refers to the same word or phrase that is repeated at the end of the second line of every couplet. Keep in mind that the radeef are always the exact, same words for every ghazal.
Matla. Matla in Urdu Poetry refers to the first couplet in a ghazal. Both lines of a ghazal’s matla must end in the radeef.
Maqta. Traditionally, poets of Urdu Poetry usually use pen names which are called Takhallus. The takhallus is usually incorporated into the last couplet of the poem as a sort of signature. The last couplet of a ghazal that contains the takhallus is called the “maqta”.
Qafiya. The “qafiya” refers to the rhyming pattern that is used just before the radeef at the end of every couplet. The qafiya is necessary to the function of every Urdu poem, even when the other rules are not adhered to.
Now that you know what each of the five terms refer to, we turn our attention to how they govern an Urdu poem’s structure. First, every couplet of a ghazal will have a completely different theme from all the other couplets in the same ghazal. Second, all the couplets of a ghazal must have the same bahar. Every single couplet in a ghazal must also end in the same radeef and use the same qafiya. Every Urdu poem has a matla but some may not have a maqta.
Like with most rules, there are also a number of exceptions:
o There are some ghazals that do not contain radeef.
o Sometimes, the ashaar of a ghazal will have the same theme.
o Modern Urdu Poetry is much less restrictive with the use of bahar than in the past.
If you are feeling a little confused, know that that is absolutely normal. It is completely understandable if you don’t get it the first time you read it. Take a deep breath a try to slowly digest the information. It really is a lot easier than you think